Today’s post is a continuation of the American Music Composers post which explored the lives and music of great American composers. The three composers featured below make great subjects of study anytime, but especially nearing the end of a year of lessons. Their music is just plain fun to listen to and to play, and even kids who are staring out of classroom windows or slacking on their practice time will be engaged by it.
Scott Joplin, the second of six children, was born sometime between June 1867 and January 1868 in eastern Texas. His father was a slave, while his mother was born a free black woman. After 1871 Joplin and his family moved to Texarkana, Texas. It was then that young Scott taught himself music on a piano in a home where his mother worked. Get complete free printable biography.
Joplin’s rise to musical success, just one generation removed from slavery, is certainly remarkable. Review his story with Scott Joplin | Word Search Worksheet and Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet, and put a face to the name with Scott Joplin | Coloring Page.
Seldom does one man define a musical genre like Scott Joplin defined ragtime. Recordings of his work make for enjoyable listening activities and are fun to play, too. Young pianists and other instrumentalists can try their hand at some of Joplin’s greatest hits with these sheet music selections:
The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo – Play and Learn™
The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo – Play and Learn™
Maple Leaf Rag for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Easy Winners for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
The Entertainer for Easy Flute Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Clarinet Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Alto Saxophone Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Trumpet Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Trombone Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Violin Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Viola Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Cello Solo with Piano Accompaniment
George Gershwin was born as Jacob Gershowitz on September 26, 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. George, the second of four children, was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents Morris Gershowitz and Rosa Bruskin. His father changed the family name to Gershwin after immigrating from Russia. Get the complete free printable biography.
His is another story of a fascinating rise from high school dropout in a Brooklyn apartment to brotherly partnership and worldwide fame. Free resources for reviewing Gershwin’s biography include George Gershwin | Word Search and Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet.
Gershwin composed a number of hits that have stood the test of time, often accompanied by his brother’s lyrics. Here are a few favorites arranged for easy/ intermediate piano.
Rhapsody in Blue for piano solo
Summertime for piano solo
They Can’t Take That Away from Me for piano solo
John Williams was born on February 8, 1932, in Floral Park, New York. In 1948 John moved with his family to Los Angeles, California. He later attended college near his home in Los Angeles where he began to study composition. After college he was drafted into the United States Air Force where he had the opportunity to arrange music for, and conduct the Air Force band. Get complete printable free biography.
From show tunes with Gershwin to movie magic with Williams, the stage and the silver screen have inspired some memorable American music. After reading Williams’s biography, review with John Williams | Word Search Worksheet and
Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet. Then, get on with the show to enjoy the many classic film scores that Williams has composed.
Since his works are recognizable and accessible, they lend themselves well to listening activities for kids of all ages. Guide their listening experience with the following listening glyphs, customized for some of the most well-known Williams pieces. Glyphs allow students to record what they are hearing with color, helping them learn what to listen for and giving them vocabulary to describe music.
John Williams | Film Score Music Listening Glyphs
Star Wars (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Jurassic Park (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Indiana Jones (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Besides for the films listed above, Williams is also known for ET, the Harry Potter films, Superman, and Schindler’s List. Kids can make their own soundtrack with the piano sheet music selections below.
Star Wars Main Theme for intermediate piano Solo
Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter films for student (easy)/ teacher duet
Raiders March for intermediate piano solo
John Williams Music Lesson Resources | Lesson Plan Guide
John Williams Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Pack
Modern Era Essentials | Easy/ Intermediate Piano Sheet Music
Ragtime Piano Sheet Music for Easy-Intermediate Solo (Digital Print)
Top 10 Easy/ Intermediate Piano Solos | Piano Sheet Music